It’s no secret that Zephyrhills has been known as a ‘Snowbird Haven’ for decades.
It’s a place where northerners routinely flock, to escape the winter chill.
So perhaps it’s only logical it would become home to lots of RV parks. There are 19 to be exact, within the city limits.
But it appears that the city is becoming a more popular place, in general, for RV enthusiasts.
StorageCafe.com has ranked Zephyrhills as the fourth-best RV destination nation, based on the number of campsites and their amenities; the local cost of living; the proximity to other attractions, and, of course, the year-round warm weather.
City officials were happy to hear about the survey results.
“Well, while this is a bit of news to me, it is always good to rank high in great places to visit, so we’re definitely happy and excited about that,” said Zephyrhills City Manager Billy Poe.
“Does this mean the secret is out?” Poe said, with a laugh. “We’re not marketing (Zephyrhills) as a great place to RV, but my thought is, we’re a retirement community — Snowbird Haven — and we’ve always been that.”
Certainly, Zephyrhills always has been a retirement or winter-home destination. However, now there’s a trend of younger retirees and even travelers who are purchasing RVs, and using RV resorts and parks in Zephyrhills.
Part of that stems from the city’s convenient location: It’s a quick trip to destinations such as the Disney attractions and the Gulf beaches.
“Just look at us (Zephyrhills) on a map,” Poe said. “You can be in Orlando and Disney in an hour. You can be in Downtown Tampa in an hour. Wesley Chapel is nearby, too, and then, of course, the beaches.”
Plus, he said, “in Zephyrhills, it’s a smaller-paced, hometown feel, which I think many people like coming to, to stay for a while.”
According to the RV Industry Association, projected 2022 RV shipments range between 578,800 and 603,300 units — slightly more than the 600,240 vehicles shipped last year.
The numbers in 2021 were up 39% from the previous year. And, from 2001 to 2021, RV ownership increased by more than 62%.
More than 11.2 million households now own RVs, with the average age of owners being 55. However, 22% of RV owners are in the 18 to 34 age range.
“I would have to say this is certainly a welcomed surprise, even if, as a town, we’ll have to revisit it (from a marketing standpoint) and be more open to it,” City Planning Director Todd Vande Berg said. “If I had to guess (on why Zephyrhills is ranked so high), it would be the affordability of RV parks. Because I think that’s the demographic that comes into play, of what people can afford. Certainly the weather and the small town feel with close proximity to beaches and a bigger city help.”
Poe added: “And not really trying to sound selfish here, but, obviously, those RVing typically have disposable income at their fingertips, so why not come spend it in Zephyrhills?”
There is definite appeal to Zephyrhills, as it is a small yet still basically rural town that offers affordable sites for RVs.
Lisa Carletti, a master-certified RV inspector who has been an avid RV enthusiast since 2016, said the primary force behind Zephyrhills’ popularity is clear.
“We live part-time in a fifth wheel (RV) in Dover and the appeal there is the same: usually more space in the parks. I can fit my RV, a large shed and three vehicles — you’re never going to find a place like that over in Tampa. All those lots are too tight.”
Carletti has inspected hundreds of RVs and been to numerous parks. She said Zephyrhills’ location will rank high on any list.
“And, of course, it’s going to be less expensive in Zephyrhills than in Tampa, Orlando or the beach areas,” she added.
So, while they may not have been deliberately trying to entice RV users, the town has much to offer.
Besides being close to numerous attractions, Zephyrhills also has nice golf courses, and nearby hiking and kayaking at the Hillsborough River.
“There are so many activities at our fingertips and then we’re not as expensive to stay as other places,” Poe said.
“I think people are really starting to see that,” he said.
Zephyrhills has 19 RV resorts or campsites within the city limits. Of those, 80% have pools and nearly all have extended stay rates that are beneficial to RV enthusiasts. Zephyrhills also has a large RV dealership, Optimum RV Zephyrhills, at 3334 Paul Buchman Highway. To inquire about an RV inspection with MyRVResource.com, email Lisa Carletti at .
Published July 06, 2022